8-Bit and Beyond

It all started with a little white square
February 17, 2009

His knee propped against the machine I sat balanced on it as I leaned to the right pressing the mighty white button with all the strength my little three year old hands could muster. My father's hand on the left side, I watched as the silver ball shot forward bouncing wildly around the machine causing an array of colored lights to flicker and loud sounds to burst fourth. Once a week my dad would head to the corner carryout to play the lottery, and once a week I would plead with him to take me too. I looked forward to playing pinball with my dad, and once again seeing the beautiful lights dance for me. Then one tragic day the machine had vanished. Much like the traveling carnivals it reminded me so much of.

This was however only the beginning of my gaming experience. It was the Winter of 1990 and the cold kept me inside most of the time. This was the first time I experienced an actual video game. I can't say I know where it came from nor do I even remember how I became introduced to it. Most likely though it was a pacifier being that I had chicken pox and was cooped up in the house. I just remember the rush it gave me. Thinking back now to how exciting watching that little white square bounce around the screen was I feel slightly ridiculous. I loved it though, I loved the feel of the knobs in my hands as I turned them making the little bars slide up and down trying to keep the square from escaping. Pong quickly became my new passion and a nightly routine for my dad and I until the Spring returned.

With the warm weather came new toys. Christmas had passed and the snow had melted away, it was time to make the rounds to everyones homes to revel in their new trophies. My best friend at the time was two years older than me, a chubby girl by the name of Jessica. Jessica's mother had brought a new treasure into my life. It was just three wonderful words that could be described as pure joy; Nintendo Entertainment System.

I found love in a little Italian man, my ancestors would be so proud. His name was Mario, and he could move beyond the single frame that Pong had offered, and he did it in color. 8-bit's of beauty made their way across the screen as we stayed up late into the night working our way through each level. Jumping on Gombas and Koopas fighting to save the frightened Princess Toadstool from the clutches of the evil Bowser King of the Koopas. Oh how I despised that cruel turtle shelled dinosaur. The Summer changed to Fall and Duck Hunting season came and went. Jessica and I had our final falling out, and moved on to new friends.

It was 1994, and Christmas was upon us and while I could lie and say Nintendo was at the top of my list, it wasn't. I actually had my heart set on a Barbie bicycle, however my parents were the type who purchased toys for their kids that they too really wanted to play with. This years parental joy was Super Nintendo, complete with Donkey Kong Country. For a while my parents played it more than I did, but it wasn't long before I realized how truly wonderful it was. I'd spend hours glued to the television, my thumbs aching and my temper flaring at each loss. I would dream about it at night, no joke! As time went on we added new games to our every growing collection, Star Wars, all the Street Fighters courtesy of my black belt father, and of course various Disney titles including my very favorite.

Aladdin; I can't pin point why I loved it, I just did. I played through Aladdin at least twenty times as a kid, my favorite levels were always inside of the Genie's lamp because that part wasn't in the movie. I got so good that I could whip through the game without loosing a life and get a perfect score in only a few hours. Jafar was no match for my mad apple throwing skills.

My parents never let me get a Nintendo 64, they'd grown out of video games by then. "The one you have works fine," they would say not understanding the beauty and Pokemon mania the Nintendo 64 offered. I was literally the only kid on the block who didn't have one, and that just wasn't cool. I would try to make up every excuse I could to get my friends to let me play theirs, I was addicted. Mario Party, Cruisin' USA, Pokemon Stadium and Paper Mario were my favorites. Alas the best my parents could offer me at that time was a used Atari, regrettably I'm not even sure what model it is nor can I remember any of the game titles. My amusement with it at the time was short lived, and it now sits in a box somewhere in my basement. Oh how I wish I could find it. I truly didn't appreciate all it had to offer me.

After years of begging for a Nintendo 64 my parents made a compromise and purchased me a Pokemon Edition Gameboy Color with Pokemon Yellow. Needless to say I became the queen of the game, catching every Pokemon there was, and trading with everyone in the neighborhood to get those not in the game. Since then I've added a multitude of games to my collection, as well as two new systems a PS2 and Platinum Gamecube.

To this day I still have every one of my systems from Pong, to PS2, and my collection is still growing and being put to good use.

Authors Note: Thanks to everyone for reading this. I started working on this article back in June and due to life commitments never finished it. Unfortunately it doesn't really touch how I had hoped it would, but I felt it needed to be finished. I tried to avoid delving to much into my current gaming systems and to focus more on the old. I also realize if you want to get technical pinball isn't a video game, but it was the first thing I experienced that was even relatively like one, and I still love it today.
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